Being A Programmer & An IT Person

Recently, at a job interview, I was asked if I was more of a Programmer or an IT person. I felt pretty confused by this question, and my answer is both. I am & always have been a generalist – I may be a generalist with a few specialties, but the way I see it, everything is inter-related. My passion for Programming & my passion for Tech Support both come from the same place: I like making things work, and I like fixing things when they break. With programming, there’s a more creative side to it, with Tech Support there’s a more Mechanical side to it (which is not to say that each side is exclusively one or the other).

And it’s true, I’ve had a bit more of Diving In Deep with Coding, but I’ve also worked in IT, and I’ve always been the fix it & make it run person for technology in the family. Troubleshooting Computers is how I got comfortable enough in the first place so that coding & manipulating things from the Terminal. One of the coolest aspects of programming is Web Development – think about making a BitTorrent client or a Multiplayer online game. You can try to do these things without a great understanding of Networking (and I did), but if you understand Networking, you get the whole picture. Similarly, when you’ve looked at things through the eyes of a Programmer, you start looking at the programs you use every day & conceptualizing about what’s going on behind the scenes. It helps you understand & troubleshoot their behavior, because you get what the pieces & the general processes look like.

The way I see it, they’re really just two parts of the same Bigger Structure. I don’t really understand the need to choose one or the other. I also know that as an IT person, you’re a bridge. A Bridge between different people, different divisions of the company, different technologies, different needs, different tools, protocols, etc. How can you be a bridge if you don’t speak multiple languages. From my perspective, you have to look at things holistically – otherwise you don’t truly understand the parts. My favorite thing about being at The Recurse Center was that they encouraged you to Dive In Deep – to understand the Why, not just the How.

So my answer is: I’m both!!

(Concession: the Interview did make me realize I had some gaps in my Networking knowledge that could really use some filling in… but I could say that about my programming too. It’s an endless rabbit hole & it’s a pleasure & a challenge working on both!!)

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